Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication: News21 Students Examine Plight of Veterans
Aug 28, 2013 (Close-Up Media via COMTEX) --
The Carnegie-Knight News21 program, a national multi-university reporting initiative, released a major national investigation into the enduring battles facing post-9/11 veterans.
According to a release, in dozens of stories, videos, photos and interactives, the multimedia project documents the experience of veterans as they negotiate a federal bureaucracy that is often overwhelmed and ill-equipped to deal with them. The students analyzed suicide rates among veterans and the problems facing female veterans. They also investigated the records of charities that raise money for veterans' causes and examined inefficiencies in government programs to process disability payments, improve tracking of health care records and bolster veteran businesses.
Major media partners expected to publish parts of the project include The Washington Post, nbcnews.com, Center for Public Integrity, Scripps Howard News Service, Digital First Media, The Philadelphia Inquirer and a number of nonprofit online news sites affiliated with the Investigative News Network.
The project was produced by 24 students from 12 universities working under the direction of a team of editors led by Jacquee Petchel, executive editor of News21 at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.
The work began in January with a video-conferenced seminar on post-9/11 veterans taught by Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post and Weil Family Professor of Journalism at the Cronkite School. The students heard from multiple experts, conducted interviews and did research on the country's response to returning veterans and the challenges ahead.
Starting in May, they participated in an intensive 10-week investigative reporting fellowship based out of a newsroom at the Cronkite School in downtown Phoenix. The fellows traveled to more than 60 cities and 20 states, conducted hundreds of interviews and reviewed thousands of public records and government reports. Their most ambitious effort was to gather, organize and analyze all reported veterans suicides from health records in every state in the nation. Not even the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has completed such an exhaustive analysis.
Downie said student reporters produced "a wealth of stories and innovative multimedia that greatly add to Americans' understanding of the challenges facing the nearly 2 million young post-9/11 veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Evocative stories, photographs and video bring these veterans to life for the great majority of people who have had little connection to the two long-running wars. And original investigative reporting, with illustrative interactive databases and graphics, holds government agencies and private organizations accountable for their obligations to the veterans."
News21 is supported by grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Carnegie Corp. of New York. The work of individual students was supported by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the Hearst Foundations, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the Peter Kiewit Foundation and Women & Philanthropy, part of the ASU Foundation.
The program is designed to give students experience producing in-depth news coverage on critical issues facing the nation, using digital methods to distribute the content on multiple platforms. Previous projects have included investigations into voting rights, food safety and transportation safety in America.
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